Juan Pablo Socino

Falcons 48 Lyon 29

Sunday 18 December 2016

Newcastle Falcons kept their European Challenge Cup campaign alive by claiming maximum points from Sunday’s visit of French side Lyon.

A rampant Newcastle side had the four-try bonus point and a 34-10 lead by half-time, the home team simply blowing away a Lyon outfit who had beaten them by 30 points just nine days earlier in France.

The visitors had actually held the lead for four minutes when metronomic full-back Jerome Porical stroked over a penalty from the right-hand side, the Falcons having started the brighter through the eager running of Sonatane Takulua and captain Mark Wilson.

Calum Green rose high to catch the restart from Lyon’s early score, setting the tone for a period of play which ended with a Joel Hodgson penalty as the visitors infringed at a ruck following Juan Pablo Socino’s midfield break.

Almost immediately from the ensuing play the home side surged into the lead, a clearance kick from inside their own 2 being hacked on by Zach Kibirige, who fed Socino from 30 metres out. The Argentinean had some work to do with the last man still ahead of him – a challenge he met with typical aplomb as he stepped his way through for the touchdown.

Hodgson converted, Newcastle adding a second try on 13 minutes when Dan Marshall offloaded for Takulua to dot down.

The third try was not long in coming as Socino was fed through a hole by Hodgson’s well-weighted pass from a line-out on half-way, some fine decoy running foxing the Lyon defence.

A bonus point seemed a formality but it took until the 39th minute to arrive, by which time Lyon had hit back with a score of their own from Thibaut Regard after a long, looping pass to the left corner.

Porical made easy work of the touchline conversion, the Falcons reaching their four-try milestone when Hodgson scythed through some slack tackling for a 30-metre dash to the posts.

The conversion ensured a 24-point half-time advantage for his side, Lyon chipping away at that within two minutes of the resumption when centre Pierre-Louis Barassi scooted down the left for his side’s second try.

Skipper Wilson’s repeated jackal work at the breakdown was delivering a string of turnovers to a Falcons side who lost Alex Rogers through injury on 48 minutes, the home team resuming their dominance on 53 minutes when Socino’s line-break and Zach Kibirige’s support running delivered a try for the latter from 40 metres out.

Hodgson added the conversion in his last act before being replaced by Craig Willis, Lyon registering a third try when wing Franck Romanet grounded just inside the right corner post.

Callum Chick responded for the Falcons with a spring to the line after a solid support run, Newcastle faced with the twin challenges of trying to improve their points difference while not conceding a potentially crucial four-try bonus point to their French visitors.

That latter target proved a stretch too far as Paul Bonnefond crossed with the final play of the game for Lyon, Newcastle's quarter-final prospects still very much in the balance with two games left to play

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Catterick, 14 Dan Marshall, 13 Belisario Agulla, 12 Juan Pablo Socino (Dominic Waldouck, 63), 11 Zach Kibirige, 10 Joel Hodgson (Craig Willis, 53), 9 Sonatane Takulua (Sam Egerton, 66); 1 Alex Rogers (Rob Vickers, 48), 2 Ben Sowrey, 3 Jon Welsh (Paddy Ryan, 55), 4 Calum Green, 5 Nick Civetta, 6 Daniel Temm, 7 Mark Wilson (captain, Harrison Orr, 63), 8 Callum Chick.

Sin-bin: Dominic Waldouck (65)

Falcons scorers - Tries: Juan Pablo Socino 2, Sonatane Takulua, Joel Hodgson, Zach Kibirige, Callum Chick. Conversions: Joel Hodgson 5, Craig Willis. Penalties: Joel Hodgson 2.

Lyon: 15 Jerome Porical, 14 Thibaut Regard, 13 Paul Bonnefond, 12 Pierre-Louis Barassi, 11 Franck Romanet, 10 Romain Loursac (Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 29), 9 Augustin Figuerola (captain); 1 Sami Mavinga, 2 Cameron Mapusua (Ti’i Paulo, 36), 3 David Attoub, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 5 Maselino Paulino, 6 Dylan Cretin, 7 Didier Tison, 8 Tai Tuifua.

Lyon scorers - Tries: Thibaut Regard, Pierre-Louis Barassi, Franck Romanet, Paul Bonnefond. Conversions: Jerome Porical 3. Penalties: Jerome Porical.

Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland).

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